The Malay Peninsula was probably already settled in the Stone Age. In the 3rd millennium BC. the ancestors of the Malays migrated from southern China (so-called Proto-Malays). In the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. there was another wave of immigration from southern China. Indian and Chinese influences increased through trade relations: Hinduism and Buddhism, respectively, spread throughout the Southeast Asian region. After the immigration of Indians, a few small kingdoms formed on the Malay peninsula. Various kingdoms also existed on the island of Borneo.
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From the 7th century, the Malay peninsula increasingly came under the influence of the Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya on the island of Sumatra and was conquered by it in the course of the 8th century. The Srivijaya empire temporarily extended across the entire Indonesian archipelago before gradually losing importance in the 9th century.
The Sultanate of Malacca
In the 14th century the Srivijaya empire was conquered by the Javanese Majapahit empire. At the beginning of the 15th century, the city of Melaka was founded on the southwest coast of the Malay Peninsula. A former sprout of the Srivijaya dynasty from Sumatra, who had converted to Islam, made Melaka the center of the Sultanate of Malacca, which he founded in 1414 and which spread over the Malay peninsula. At the turn of the century to the 16th century, the sultanate experienced its heyday and greatest expansion. Almost the entire spice trade in this region was controlled from the port city of Melaka.
In 1511 Melaka was conquered by the Portuguese, who developed the city into a fortress and now took control of the extremely lucrative spice trade between Asia and Europe. Numerous commercial branches were founded along the coast by Portuguese and Spanish merchants.
In 1641 the Netherlands conquered Melaka and much of the Malay Peninsula and rose from there to the leading European colonial power in Southeast Asia. The Netherlands had competition from Great Britain: in 1768, after consulting the Sultan of Kedah, they founded their first branch on the island of Pinang. According to AbbreviationFinder, the town of George Town, founded by the British, quickly developed into an important hub. The solution to the emerging conflicts between the two colonial powers was a contract of 1824: the Netherlands relinquished its branches on the Malay Peninsula, in return Great Britain ceded its possessions in the Indonesian archipelago to the Dutch.
In 1826 Great Britain merged its possessions on the peninsula (Pinang, Singapore, Pangkor, Melaka) into the so-called “Straits Settlements” (branches on the straits), which were administered by the British colonial administration in India. In 1867 the areas were declared their own crown colonies with administrative headquarters in Singapore. The remaining minor empires on the Malay Peninsula also came under British influence. From the mid-19th century, Great Britain also controlled parts of the island of Borneo. The current provinces of Sarawak and Sabah were declared British protected areas in 1888.
In 1906 the British possessions on the Malay Peninsula and Borneo were merged to form the Federation of Malaya. The other sultanates on the peninsula (Perlis, Kedah, Terengganu, Kelatan and later Johor) formed the “Unfederate States of Malaysia” and were under British protection. The British expanded the plantation economy on the peninsula (rubber, palm oil, tea) and used mainly Indians as workers. The Chinese population also rose significantly during the British colonial period. These often held key positions in the management of the plantations and in trade.
The Second World War and the aftermath
During the Second World War, the Malay Peninsula and the offshore islands were occupied by Japanese troops. After the end of the war and the Japanese surrender, the areas on the peninsula and Borneo were again put under British administration. The resistance movement against the domination of the colonial power, which had already emerged during the war and whose supporters formed the United Malaysian National Organization (UMNO) in 1946, was hampered by ethnic tensions between Malays, Chinese and Indians.
In 1948, all sultanates on the Malay Peninsula were combined to form the Federation of Malaya (Malay Federation). Singapore and the British possessions on the island of Borneo were excluded from this. The struggle of communist groups against the colonial power was added to the internal ethnic tensions. In 1948, after several communist attacks on plantations and tin mines, the British leadership imposed a state of emergency on the Malay Confederation (until 1960). The “Malay Communist Party” (MCP) was banned, and there were occasional clashes until the late 1950s.
In the meantime, the transition to the country’s sovereignty was gradually being prepared. Free elections were held for the first time in the mid-1950s, in which UMNO, the leader of the independence movement, Abdul Rahman, was elected head of the Malay Confederation. He led the coalition of UMNO, “Malayan Chinese Association” (MAC) and “Malayan Indian Congress” (MIC). After a constitution was drawn up, the country was released on August 30, 1957 as Malaya under the British Commonwealth of Nations. Singapore and Northern Borneo initially remained British colonies. In 1963, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak included the formation of the Federation of Malaysia (as a combination of the names Malaya and Singapore) with Kuala Lumpur as the capital. The inclusion of the former British colonies Sarawak and Sabah in Borneo created considerable tensions with Indonesia and the Philippines, which resulted in military confrontations. In 1966 Indonesia relinquished the areas, in 1968 the Philippines gave up its ownership rights.
After ethnic, economic and political differences, Singapore, which was largely populated by Chinese, resigned from the Malaysia Federation in 1965. Two years later, Malaysia, like Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, was one of the founding members of the Southeast Asian association ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
In 1970, Prime Minister Abdul Rahman had to resign as Prime Minister after a series of bloody racial riots and a state of emergency was declared in 1969. At that time, Chinese made up about a third of the population, but had more than 90% of the economy under their control. The government in Kuala Lumpur decided to favor the Malay population in all areas of public life. Bahasa Malaysia has been declared the official language. Abdul Rahman’s successor was Abdul Razak (until 1974), who led an alliance of 11 groups (including the dominant UMNO). Economic reforms (New Economic Policy) laid the foundation stone for the rapid economic recovery in Malaysia in the coming decades.
The party alliance (“National Front”) was also the strongest political force in the 1974 and 1978 elections. In 1981 Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad succeeded Hussein bin Onn as prime minister. In 1983 the constitution was amended to restrict the monarch’s rights (Malaysia is a parliamentary electoral monarchy) vis-¨¤-vis the parliament.
Tensions between Malays and Chinese continued on the Malay Peninsula in the 1980s. The Sabah and Sarawak provinces in Borneo and the Malaysian government in Kuala Lumpur have had disputes over the share of resource-rich provinces in the rapid economic growth. Opposition groups were elected to the state parliament for the first time.
Due to the increasing spread of Islamic fundamentalism, the Malaysian government banned the Islamic sect Al-Arquam in August 1994, the supporters of which demanded an Islamic state of God with Sharia law. In 1998, the political leadership was forced to adopt a series of austerity measures due to the Asian crisis. In 2001, the government repeatedly attacked opposition politicians from the “National Justice Party” and the Islamic PAS. Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad, who has been head of government for Malaysia for 22 years, was replaced in October 2003 by former Interior Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The ruling party alliance “National Front”, which includes a total of 14 parties, won 64 in the parliamentary elections in March 2004, 644 percent of the vote. This gave the moderate head of government Badawi, who is tough on government corruption, a clear mandate from the electorate. However, the “National Front” lost more than 50 seats in the early parliamentary elections in March 2008 and thus the two-thirds majority with which the constitution can be changed. The alliance suffered the worst slump in 40 years. It also lost government control in four states. The alliance suffered the worst slump in 40 years. It also lost government control in four states.
In 2009, on April 3, 2009, Najib Razak took over the office of Prime Minister from his predecessor and party friend Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Growing ethnic tensions in the country are reflected in the formation of new parties. The Human Rights Party, founded by P. Uthayakumar, has been fighting for equal treatment of Indians since July 2009. The Perkasa party has existed since February 2010 and is viewed by critics as racist.
On February 9th, 2010, corporal punishments under Islamic law were carried out on women for the first time in Malaysia. The three condemned women were hit with sticks due to illegitimate intercourse.